The Central Bank of Nigeria on Friday night opened up on the operation of the controversial secret account.
Members of the Senate panel probing the management of fuel subsidy regime had on Wednesday queried the Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation on the secret foreign account allegedly managed by the corporation.
The committee had questioned the rationale behind the operation of the account, which, according to it, violates the constitution.
But the NNPC had fingered the CBN in the opening of the account.
But the bank in a statement issued by its Director, Corporate Communications Department, Mr. Ugo Okoroafor, accused the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation of opening the account in 2002.
It said the CBN could not open any account for the government and its agencies unless clear and specific instructions, approvals or mandates were issued by the appropriate authorities.
The statement read in part, “We wish to state clearly the following facts regarding the accounts in question:
“That the CBN/NNPC Crude Oil & Gas Account was opened on May 16, 2002, on the express instruction of the OAGF vide a mandate ref: No. CS/5385/S.23/94/DDF, dated May 15, 2002.
“That the CBN/NNPC Gas Account was opened on February 3, 2009, following a similar instruction from the AGF, vide mandate ref. No. FD/5385/S.71/1/178/DF, dated January 28, 2009.
“That the two accounts, which were opened as domiciliary accounts, are backed by the appropriate mandates of the OAGF.
“That in operating the accounts, the NNPC on monthly basis issues instructions to the CBN on how much should be paid as Joint Venture Cash Call and how much should be monetised and transferred to the Federation Account for distribution to the three tiers of government.
“A minimum balance of $10m is always left in the revenue account.
“That on the CBN/NNPC Gas Account, the NNPC issues monthly mandates to enable the CBN monetise and transfer the balance in the account to the Federation Account, leaving a minimum balance of $5m.” The statement further said that all movements of funds out of the accounts were duly authorised by the NNPC.
The CBN in the statement also accused the NNPC of being the sole signatory to the account.
It said, “The CBN wishes to reiterate that in the light of these verifiable facts presented above, there was no truth in the allegation insinuating that the CBN is maintaining secret foreign accounts.”
When contacted on the issue, the Deputy Director, Press Unit in the OAGF, Mr. Charles Nwodo, requested that details of the allegations by the CBN be sent to him.
The mail was sent to him but no response was received as at 7:45pm when this story was filed.